Symptoms of the cat flu: All you need to know!

Symptoms of the cat flu are important indicator to understand if your cat is suffering from this disease or not. The signs of cat flu do not confirm the disease occurrence in your cat or kitten unless confirmation from qualified vets.

However, if the symptoms shown by the cats resembles with the cat flu disease, this will be your duty to contact with a nearby vets to start immediate treatment. Because, the disease is more serious or even can cause death in case of kitten than that of the adult cats.

In this guide, you will have an elaborate idea not only for the signs and symptoms of the cat flu, but also regarding other issues of the disease such as what the cat flu is, causes of cat flu, treatment and how to get rid from cat flu.

Keep reading until the end.

What is the cat flu?

The cat flu, a very common disease of cat, create symptoms similar to that of human flu. Another name of cat flu is feline respiratory disease complex caused by one or multiple pathogens.

The disease complex affect predominantly the upper respiratory tract of cats or kitten. It can occur in both mild and severe from. For kitten, the flu can be life threatening. On the other hand, for adult healthy cats, the severity of the disease is mostly less.

Therefore, as a cat owner, you must be careful about flu. The characteristic lesion is also visible within the eyes of your cats.

What causes cat flu?

It’s a viral disease caused by one or multiple viruses to form a disease complex. As a secondary infection, bacteria can also take to scope to deteriorate the situation. So, due to simultaneous infection caused by virus and bacteria can increase the severity of the disease.

However, the name of common viruses responsible for the causation the cats flue are feline herpes virus or feline calicivirus.

Among other infectious agents Bordetella and mycoplasma species are there to cause respiratory disease complex of your cats.

Although, it is believed that, around 80% cases of the disease are caused by either feline herpes virus or feline calicivurs. In some cases, the involvement of both viruses are observed.

How is cat flu transmitted?

The core causative agents of the diseases are two viruses as described above. The reality is that both viruses are so contagious in nature that can spread through direct contact, shared bowels of food, and droplets.

Mode of cat flu transmission are as follows-

  • By direct contact: If healthy cats remains with infected cats during sleeping and playing together, or nuzzling, licking
  • Droplets: Due to sneezing, a kind of air droplets are produced through which the virus can spread to other cats.
  • Nasal discharge from infected cats
  • Through contaminated utensils like shared water and food bowls, surface of the cage etc.

Study reveals that any in order to growth and multiplication virus particle needs living cell, but they can survive in inanimate substance for few days.

Likewise, this virus can survive for seven days in the environment.

Therefore, the contaminated surface areas can be other source of infection and in this way from environment the virus can also get entrance into your cat’s body.

Can cat flu infect humans?

To answer this question, firstly I would like to talk about the microorganism responsible for causation of human flu and cat flu.

Are they same?

The good news is that – no. The viruses cause flu infection in cat and human are distinct, not same.

Still some study has been carried out to address this issue.

According to the findings of those scientific studies, transmission of cat flu from infected cat to human is not commonly seen.

However, enough information is not available till date to cause human influenza by cat flu organism. Further research study is needed to predict this issue.

Expert scientist believes that the risk of spreading cat flu viruses into human body is considerable low. But it depends on the duration of disease within the infected cats along with the intensity of infection remaining there.

Moreover, there is a chance to change the genetic criteria of the microbes by mutation to be capable of human infection.

What are the symptoms of cat flu?

The symptoms of cat flu is quite normal as the name suggests. As we see for human being, once affected by flu, the traditional signs and symptoms are mostly a bit rise of fever, coughing to some extent, sneezing and sometimes nasal discharge.

The interesting thing is that, for the case cat flue, the affected cats show almost the same kind of symptoms.

Anyway, I summarizing below the symptoms of cat flu which are most commonly observed-

  • Inflammation in the throat region of the cat where trachea and larynx are located. This region is known as upper respiratory tract.
  • Coughing due to inflammation over there.
  • Sneezing which is the one of major route of transmission of the disease due to coming out droplets from infected cats into the air.
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Conjunctivitis and occasional ulcer formation on the eye surface
  • Watery discharge from eyes
  • In appetence or loss of appetite
  • Behavioral changes
  • Dribbling
  • Difficulty or noisy breathing and etc.

These are the symptoms of cat flu which are most common in the affected cats.

So, once those signs of cat flu exposed, immediately make a contact with your vets for early treatment.

How serious is cat flu in kittens?

The disease is usually serious or even fatal for the kitten. Causing death due to cat flu in kitten is frequently observed if not treated properly.

Though the treatment option is very limited once affected with the disease. Only supportive treatment is there.

But adult cats affected with cat flu is not as severe as that of kitten. So, contact your nearby vets as soon as possible once the signs of cat flu becomes visible.

What are symptoms of the cat flu in kittens?

The signs or symptoms of the cat flu is almost same as cat flu. But the only difference is the severity of the disease.

The intensity of the symptoms of the cat flu in kittens are much noticeable depending on the maternal immunity the kitten received from her mother.

Please have a look below the symptoms of the cat flu in kitten-

  • Rise of body temperature
  • Sneezing
  • Eye lesions are more prominent, some cases can’t open the eye
  • Ulceration of eye surface and mouth cavity
  • Noisy breathing or difficulties in breathing
  • Coughing
  • Watery discharge from eye and nose
  • Dehydration and etc

In more sever case, the infection can spread in the lung causing pneumonia. If there is more damage in the inner surface of the throat areas, problem in breathing becomes more prominent.

How to treat cat flu naturally?

As the disease caused by virus, there is no specific treatment against the disease. Only supportive treatments are provided on the basis of symptoms expressed. Antibiotics are given in order to prevent the secondary bacterial infection.

However, treatment of cat flu can be as follows according to expert veterinarians-

  • Anti-inflammatory as a pain killer: You need be aware about paracetamol. Don’t provide it yourself. Because, it has got poisonous effect for cat. Only one paracetamol is enough for causing death of your cats even if it is completely healthy adult.
  • Antibiotics: For preventing secondary infection
  • Expectorants: This preparation is used when there is excessive coughing in your cats. It breaks down the mucous present in the upper respiratory tract or cat’s nose.
  • Eye drops to keep the eyes moist.
  • Antiviral drugs if found available
  • Intravenous or subcutaneous dextrose saline if there is extensive energy loss.

Cat flu shot : How to get rid of cat flu?

As we know prevention is better than cure, so go for adopting appropriate preventive measures as the most effective means to get rid from cat flu.

As a part of preventive measures you can take following activities-

  • Allow the kitten to drink adequate mother’s milk from the birth until weaning time.
  • Vaccinate your kitten against cat flu when it will be eight weeks old. Then repeat it time. You can have a look on cat flu vaccine timeline for cats in my article.
  • Don’t allow the kitten to move outdoor freely.
  • Provide healthy food to your kittens.

Can cats die from cat flu?

Yes, cats can die from cat flu depending on the severity of the disease and treatment facilities.

How long does a cat flu last?

The cat flu can last upto one to two weeks in average. The duration of the disease varies from individual cat to cat depending on several factors such as-

  • Health condition
  • Age
  • Maternal antibodies present in the body
  • Vaccine shots whether given or not, etc

Bottom line

You already got a superficial idea about the symptoms of the cat flu along with other relevant parts of the disease. The cat flu can cause death in your kitten. So, you must take proper precautionary measures in order to get rid of cat flu. Always keep in touch with your vets if you find any symptomatic changes in your cats.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any question about the post content.

A veterinarian completed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Bangladesh Agricultural University. I worked for more than 12 years as a veterinary surgeon for Bangladesh Govt. During this time, I got the opportunity to work with pets. I bear a keen interest in pets by sharing my knowledge and experiences. Till now I am working in Dept. Livestock Services, Bangladesh.

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